Moving Compassion

A sermon outline.

J. H. RHOADS, Pastor. Pioneer Memorial Church. Berrien Springs. Michigan

[Editors Note: This is an excellent outline prepared as a suggestion for the basis of a sermon in connection with Disaster and Famine Relief day, Sabbath, May 8. Related subject matter may be found in the missionary program helps in May issue of GO.]

I. The Compassionate Christ

1. Text: Mark 6:34

a. The context: Thronged by the multitude—no privacy.

    (1)     Yet Jesus was always accessi­ble. With Him the crowd never obscured the person. His concern was with people—individual people.

    (2)     He was "moved with compas­sion" (Matt. 9:36; 14:14); "touched with the feeling of our infirmities" (Heb. 4:15) His nature was acutely sensi­tive to human suffering. Sym­pathy. Empathy. Tears of God! (John 11:35, 36).

II. Compassion Defined

1. "Sorrow or pity excited by the distress or misfortunes of another; sympathy" (Webster's Collegiate Dictionary).

a. It is a spiritual awareness of an-other's tragedy. An intense feeling of shared suffering, attended by the compulsion to alleviate.

b. Compassion is a bigger word than sympathy. It originates with God.

    (1)     The dictionary defines it.

    (2)     The Bible reveals Christ prac­ticing it.

    (3)     The new birth brings the com­passionate Christ into the heart.

c. Thus we become moved as was He.

III. Compassion Discerns

1. The gift of compassion enables one to love the unlovable.

a. It sees beyond the forbidding ex­terior.

b. What appears as pride is often ti­midity or loneliness.

c. Boasting often covers fear and in­security.

d. Irritability is a symptom of frustra­tion or illness.

e. Compassion penetrates the mask; sees behind the bravado; discovers the real person behind the facade. 2. Illustration: Said the old slave woman in wonderment, as she saw day by day a celestial likeness emerge above the sculptor's chisel, "Master, how did you know that angel was in that rock?"

The loving Christ sees not only what we are but what, by the mov­ing of His compassion, we may be­come.

IV. Compassion Feels

I. We live in a society that is often in­sensitive to human suffering.

a. An aged man is beaten and tram­pled to death by a teen-age gang on a Chicago street. People come and go, but none offer protec­tion.

b. A young woman stabbed and raped. Many knew, but chose not to become involved.

c. A section of a stadium collapsed. Some killed and scores injured. Cries for help drowned by laughter, cheers, and applause of the crowd as the game went on.

2. When the compassion of Jesus is re­pulsed, men become morbid, sadistic, and brutal.

3. Divine love, transmitted through hu­man hearts and hands, is the world's greatest need.

V. Compassion Speaks a Universal Language

1. Rulers may nobly attack the problems of poverty, suffering, and disease. Legislatures may appropriate funds to alleviate human distress. The deeper needs of the human heart can be met only by the moving compas­sion of Jesus, displayed by God's men and God's women.

2. Illustration: Recently I asked one of my church elders to visit an old man in the county hospital. He found him in a large ward where many feeble, irrational, sick, and lonely old men were waiting to die. This elder has lived for years on our college campus among happy and radiant young peo­ple. After returning from the hospital he told me he had found a different world—one that he scarcely realized existed, and only two miles away from his home!

Complacent and comfortable Chris­tians need to discover that other world. Three fourths of earth's mil­lions are always hungry, and live in poverty and want. Stand on that emi­nence over there where Jesus stands. Then you too will see the other world of misery and despair. Stand with Him until His compassion flows down and covers and fills your life, and moves you.

VI. Compassion GoesGives (not a passive emotion that only feels sorry)

  1. It impells to action—to sacrifice.
  2. Jesus was moved!

a. The plight of lost men moved Him. The compulsion of His compas­sion moved Him to Gethsemane, Calvary, and lifted Him up on a crude cross. This is the power that can move a world for God.

b."As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world" (John 17: 18). Famine, pestilence, earth­quake, and flood in these last days.

c.  "The Lord permits suffering and calamity to come upon men and women to call us out of our selfish­ness, to awaken in us the attributes of His character,—compassion, tenderness, and love."—Counsels on Stewardship, p. 23.

VII. Appeal

1. Every crisis, calamity, and tragedy of­fers a challenge to the moving compassion of the remnant church.

2. Love bestowed is requited—a recip­rocation of blessing. "Divine wisdom has appointed, in the plan of salvation, the law of action and reaction, making the work of be­neficence, in all its branches, twice blessed. He who gives to the needy blesses others, and is blessed himself in a still greater degree."—Counsels on Stewardship, p. 13.

3. In this ministry lies the secret of a finished work. It will lead the church back to primitive godliness. The church moved by compassion be­comes magnetic. Here is the key to bring a repetition of Pentecost. "If we would humble ourselves be­fore God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one."—Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 189.

Today as we are asked to share our abundance with the needy of earth, I would bring you this lovely little story:

A young mother was working in her kitchen one cold autumn evening. Her ba­bies were fed and in bed. She was doing dishes, and trying to finish the endless chores of her humble home. She had been feeling sorry for herself. The family income was meager; the house and its furnishings were plain. She thought of so many things she would like to have.

Then she heard a knock at the door. She opened it and two children stood be­fore her. They were poorly dressed and shivered in the cold wind. She invited them in. Their large eyes scanned the lighted room. Her mother spirit quickly discerned their unspoken wants. She offered them chairs by the fire, and asked if they would have some hot cocoa and cookies. Their faces lighted up; they nodded their heads. "Cookies!" exclaimed the little boy. As he stirred his hot drink, he turned his spoon over and over, and then said with delight, "What a pretty spoon!" "And look," re­sponded the little sister excitedly, "the cup and the saucer match!"

They drank seconds and thirds, then slid from their chairs as the girl said Thank you for both of them. As they opened the door to leave, the sister leaned forward shyly and in a subdued voice said, "Lady, you must be rich!"

They were gone. The wind moaned and rattled the windowpane. She thought of her babies—healthy, warm in bed, and asleep. She thought of her faithful husband who would be returning soon from a long day's work. Suddenly she was almost over­whelmed with a vision of her blessings, spiritual and material. The warmth of a new purpose pervaded her heart as she saw, against the darkness of the night, those two little faces, and heard again the night wind and the whispered words, "Lady, you must be rich!"

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J. H. RHOADS, Pastor. Pioneer Memorial Church. Berrien Springs. Michigan

May 1965

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